The term “quality time” is used often these days. I know of no better way to connect with a kid than to spend time outdoors. Fishing is an especially good way to get youngsters “hooked” on the outdoors. I am happy to say the number of youngsters (many of them now adults teaching their kids to fish) I taught to fish are many. As a teenager, I often took my younger nephews and their friends fishing.
I truly believe that fishing comes almost as natural as breathing to most kids but I also know bad fishing experiences early in a youngsters fishing career can cause them to revert to watching TV and playing video games. Nothing wrong with either of these endeavors in moderation but to my way of thinking, many youngsters today spend far too much time setting and not enough time “doing”.
When fishing with youngsters, there’s lots of baiting, re-rigging, removing fish and giving of instructions and encouragement. Two kids for each adult is a good rule of thumb for those “early” fishing trips; one on one is better but not always feasible. I remember some very challenging outings when my five grandsons were smaller. I learned quickly to let the older boys serve as “guides” for the younger ones!
Action is the name of the game when introducing youngsters to fishing. Kids need to feel that tug on the line and the species that are relatively to catch such as sunfish, schooling white bass or stripers or catfish are much better ‘starter’ fish than, say largemouth bass or speckled trout down on the coast.
An outing several years ago is firmly entrenched in my memory banks! We were fishing a pond owned by a good friend and the little “fishing hole” was teeming with bream, many of which were the hybrid Coppernose variety that often grow to three-quarters of a pound and sometime a bit bigger. These fish will put a bow in your fishing rod. Bream are hard fighters on light tackle and the action began as soon as the kids got their baits in the water. We were using the new Berkley “Gulp” earthworm baits that actually stay on the hook better than the real thing. A jar of the baits cost about the same as a box of nightcrawlers and last three times as long. These tough little imitation earthworms are scent impregnated and will catch everything from sunfish to catfish.
My son in law and I were kept VERY busy baiting hooks, untangling lines, removing fish, all the time being exposed to five very loud, adrenaline charged youngsters. The boy’s conversation went something like this for a solid hour: “Got one over here, Gramps. Daddy, can you take this one off? I’m hung up on that limb, can you get me loose? I want to fish where Jack is fishing”.
After an hour of steady action, I could see the kids needed a break. I KNOW I did! I asked them to lean their rods against the dock and take a break. This went over like a lead balloon until I asked if they wanted to hop into the back of the truck and take a ride with Gramps looking for deer and wild hogs; they were climbing in before I finished the invitation! I knew my son in law would enjoy a little peace and quiet fishing for bass while I took the youngsters for a ride. Frequent breaks are a must when fishing with kids. They may not admit to being a bit tired but if you watch them closely, the signs become pretty obvious.
Kids need action and lots of it to keep their interests when fishing. To my way of thinking, fishing for black bass is the worst way to introduce youngsters to the sport. Bass fishing is usually too slow and much too challenging for young kids. Sunfish, catfish or white bass are a much better choice for those formative years.
When fishing with little kids, make sure and take time to let them be kids, not serious fishermen. In the beginning, keep trips short in duration, an hour is a long time for even nine year olds to remain focused.
Back home, I filleted all the larger bream and the kids watched my every move, handing me the next fish and making statements such as “that big one is mine” or “Gramps, how do you get those fillets off the fish so easy, or “when do we have a fish fry?”
When taking “your” little ones fishing, don’t expect too much the first few outings. Use “push button” spin cast rigs that are next to fool proof and do the casting for them until they learn how. Better yet, fish off a dock where they can simply drop baits straight down. Keep things simple and fun, bring along plenty of snacks and you will soon have a bunch of seasoned veterans on your hands that will come running at the mere mention of a fishing trip!
COYOTES ON THE PROWL- We live in an area with a strong coyote population. About this time each year, coyotes leave their haunts in the wild and venture into yards, attracted by pet food and, sad to say… our pets. I believe years with lush vegetation growth spawn an increase in these coyote invasions. Prey such as rabbits are harder for the songdogs to locate when the woods and fields have lots of vegetation for their prey to use as cover. There is also lots of younger coyotes this time of year that are learning how to survive. For the past few years, we’ve had a problem with ‘yotes’. Last year a small Jack Russell terrier came up missing and this year, my wife has lost several of her ‘outside’ cats.
My son spotted coyotes on two occasions late at night close to the house during the past week. Most of these sightings occurred around midnight or later, long after I am in bed sound asleep. After another cat came up missing 2 nights ago, I decided to devise a plan to remove Ole Wiley from the equation!
For the past year or so, I’ve been using a Night Site 200 that mounts to the scope of any rifle and lights up the night using infra red technology. Shots at up to 200 yards are very doable with the Night Site. I also have the Night Site Spotter that is hand held and used to scan the darkness. I decided to mount my Night Site to my .25 caliber Airforce air rifle and set up a Cass Creek “Waggler” electronic caller in the front yard. The caller is activated via remote control. My plan was to set up on the front porch, set the caller out about 50 yards and loose a bit of sleep in hopes of setting the score with Wiley. I did my homework for this project. After all, coyotes are tough to trick, especially those that choose to come slinking around the house in close proximity to people. I loaded the Airforce air gun with 53 grain solid lead bullets made by Hunters Supply. During daylight hours, I had the rifle shooting nickel size groups at 50 yards with a projectile quite capable of cleanly killing any coyote. The caller was set during daylight hours. To date, I’ve lost 4 hours sleep without even a sighting of Wiley but my vigil will continue tonight. More as this story develops!
Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com. Join Luke and his guest Larry Weishuhn and Bill Dance each week for an hour of interesting and entertaining outdoor talk. Email Luke with news from your area via the web site.